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1. Books A Million Selling Variants Online and Getting DC from Diamond

Princess-LeiaThis may well spoil things for people trying to flip variants on eBay, but it looks like Books A Million will let you order (and pre-order) variant covers off their website.  And it looks like they’re expanding how many different publishers they’re getting variants from:

And that Princess Leia link is for the sketch variant.  Yes, BAM now has variants and sketch variants for some of the Star Wars titles.  A Marvel variant will set you back $7.99, but a sketch variant is $9.99  Start saving your pennies, kids.

There are a lot more variants available than just those, with Marvel leading the way in terms of volume.  On the BAM site, the publisher of the comics is always listed as “Diamond Comic” or “Diamond Comic Magazine,” amusingly reminding use where these are coming from.  I’d take as a good sign for how BAM’s doing with non-returnable fare that they’re adding all these variants and from all sorts of publishers.

And then there’s DC.  BAM lists a few DC titles online.  Here’s Convergence #1.  It’s not listed as being an exclusive cover, but it’s got “Diamond Comic Magazine” as the publisher and an ISBN number:

  • ISBN-13: 9781492472070
  • ISBN-10: 1492472077

Here’s the link for Convergence: Suicide Squad #1, which BAM has listed as a hardcover (almost certainly an error).

DC did not get back to me about why some of their titles are showing up on BAM’s site as Diamond titles, but since they’re not listed as variants, it’s entirely possible they weren’t aware those listings existed.

In the meantime, if variants are your thing, you don’t have to pay a jacked up price for the BAM variants on eBay if the title in question is still available on their website.


Have you read Todd’s book Economics of Digital Comics?  You can also ignore him on Twitter at@Real_Todd_Allen

 

3 Comments on Books A Million Selling Variants Online and Getting DC from Diamond, last added: 3/1/2015
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2. MUST READ: Jim Zub on how creator owned comics economics have improved

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And when I say must-read, I mean MUST READ, as it really lays out fundamental changes in how the industry is working for creator owned books.. A few days ago I noted how an old post on the economics of Jim Zub on Skullkickers, his Image comics, had gotten a second life on Facebook with it’s very low numbers on comics profits. In the comment, Zub promised an update, and he’s delivered with an analysis of his new book, Wayward. As you can see from the above graph, it’s a HUGE change, and it’s all due to the rise of Image Comics:

The Image model has always been about investing in yourself and reaping the benefits of that investment if sales are strong. I knew that going in with Skullkickers back in 2010 and, even when our sales were borderline unprofitable, I stuck with the series as a way to establish myself as a writer and show people our team could produce a high quality comic month after month. Now, four and a half years later, I’m seeing the benefits of that consistency and the growing creator-owned market with my new Image series called Wayward.

Zub enumerates a number of ways Wayward has surpassed Skullkickers, including his larger profile in the industry at large, and the material being more suited to today’s market: “Cute supernatural teenage girls (surrounded by cats) kicking the shit out of monsters on the street of Tokyo plays to a bigger audience than a bro-centric slapstick violent D&D tale, especially in 2014-2015.” While you should read the whole thing, one particular bullet point is worth highlighting:

• Retailer Outreach: I’ve also done a ton of retailer outreach over the past four years. Having well regarded work is wonderful but only if retailers feel confident they can sell the books. As we headed towards the launch of Wayward, the crew at Image and I did a lot of communicating with retailers about the series, showing them exclusive artwork and previews, doing everything we could to prove to them that this was a series they could confidently sell to their customers. That lead to several comic shop and convention-exclusive variant covers for Wayward #1, bolstering our launch numbers by thousands of copies while creating extra interest in the series.

While some may see the “variant method” as a danger sign, I think the numbers on these variants are still low enough on an individual basis to avoid threatening overall comics sales. It’s also CRUCIAL that today’s retailers are more open to diverse material. I don’t like to live in the past, but some of my 90s conversations with retailers begging them to consider selling Simpsons comics spring to mind. But you know it was a different world 20years ago. It’s a different world than it was even FOUR years ago. While Zub notes that neither he nor Wayward artist/co-creator Steve Cummings are rolling in dough, they have enough to pay the rest of the team, and for Cummings to work on the book full time. AND they have a war chest to help promote and keep the book on its successful sales trajectory.

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Zub notes that the first Wayward trade paperback is coming out in March, so even his numbers post serves as a way to promote the next work.

Good sound tips all.

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Above: the triptych cover for Wayward #6-8 by Cummings.

4 Comments on MUST READ: Jim Zub on how creator owned comics economics have improved, last added: 2/24/2015
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3. ComicsPRO: Schanes and Kubert honored at “diversity” filled meeting

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The annual meeting for the retailer organization ComicsPRO wrapped up over the weekend. The meeting is closed to the press but retailer/newspaper columnist Matt Price has an informative series of posts on the event, which consists of meetings and publisher presentations. It was a transitional year for ComicsPRO following a scandal involving former treasurer Gary Dills, who resigned and saw one of his stores closed. But the organization seems to have rebounded in the midst of the general comics renaissance that is taking place.

According to Price, publishers acknowledged the seismic shift going on in the comics reading demographic:

The watchword for a lot of the ComicsPRO annual members meeting was “diversity,” as both publishers and retailers realized the demographics of their audience are shifting. There were a lot of newsbits and notes coming out of the meeting, but there didn’t seem to be many strong areas of dissension — publishers announced ways to work with retailers to mitigate risk and to let them know what content would be of most interest to which audiences.


New board members were also selected. Pete Dolan of Main Street Comics in Middletown, N.Y. was elected as president, replacing Thomas Gaul. Other board members include VP Carr D’Angelo of Earth 2 Comics; recording secretary, Chris Brady of Four Color Fantasies; and treasurer, Ralph Mathieu of Alternate Reality Comics. Brady and Jayme Foster of Southern Fried Comics in Hattiesburg, Miss., were elected to the board, joining the above plus Chicago Comics’ Eric Kirsammer.

The annual Industry appreciation awards were presented. Bill Schanes, formerly of Pacific Comics and Diamond and now an industry consultant, was selected as the living winner; hall of fame artist and educator Joe Kubert was selected posthumously.

In other news, the event included perhaps the last chance to fete outgoing sales guru Bob Wayne, whos, as we’ve noted many times before, is the most popular human on earth among comics retailers.

Archie unveiled the above comicsPRO exclusive cover to The Black Hood #1 (on sale this week) by Michael Gaydos.


Many more photos from the events from the twitter feed of Strange Adventure’s Calum Jonston

However undoubtedly the greatest optics of the event was the Fight Cub 2 severed arm giveaway, to promote theupcoming book by Chuck Palahniuk and Cameron Stewart. So many uses.

And some more random tweeting about the event.

0 Comments on ComicsPRO: Schanes and Kubert honored at “diversity” filled meeting as of 2/23/2015 1:18:00 PM
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4. ComicsPRO: Papercutz teaming with Nickelodeon for Breadwinners and Sanjay and Craig

Or at least that’s what we got out of these extremely not hard to figure out teaser images:

sanjayPCUTZ.jpg

breadwinnersPCUTZ.jpg

Papercutz previously published comics based on the RABBIDS cartoon which aired on Nickelodeon. In addition they’ve had pretty massive success with their other kids titles such as Ninjago, Geronimo Stilton and so on. No reason to think this won’t work, too.

The ComicsPRO meeting is currently underway in Portland, OR, with publishers, retailers and a few miscellaneous types on hand to plot the future of comics. Although closed to press, news tends to leak out in a timely fashion. We’ll keep you posted on more development.

0 Comments on ComicsPRO: Papercutz teaming with Nickelodeon for Breadwinners and Sanjay and Craig as of 2/20/2015 12:23:00 AM
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5. Dark Horse Now At Books A Million Through Diamond

IMG_20150214_144203The last time we talked about Books A Million and Diamond, I told you’d I’d been advised to keep an eye on Dark Horse and, sure enough, Dark Horse had disappeared off the newsstand sections at both BAM and Barnes & Noble in my area.  I popped in again today and Dark Horse did have a presence at Books A Million in the bagged and boarded section of comics shipped from Diamond.  Rumor confirmed.

Also of interest on the rack was a sticker on an issue of Daredevil.   The third-oldest issue was 20% and as you can see from the photo, they’re also pushing their discount membership. (If you buy a $25 membership, you get 10% off in-store purchases.  Which means you need to spend $250 to break even.)  That was the only stickered comic I could find on the rack.  It could be they’re going to start discounting the older stock, and this would be one of the first ones they received.  Could be they’re experimenting on different comics to see if the extra discount has an effect.  With only one sticker, it’s hard to say.

There happened to be a staffer stocking magazines, so I asked her a few questions.  She referred to the Diamond comics as not being from the normal distributor service and said they were trying something different and seeing how it went.  As for the discount sticker, anything like that would be by instruction from management or the distributor.  I don’t think she meant Diamond in this case, but it reinforces the impression I’d been getting that this comics initiative through Diamond is being controlled rather tightly by the BAM corporate offices and not driven by individual store managers at this point.  The phrasing also gives me the impression that this is still in the experimental stage and not rolled out as a standard option at all BAMs yet.  I wouldn’t call a 20%/30% discount remaindering a comic, either.  Even with the cost of a bag and a board, that should still be above their break-even rate.

IMG_20150214_144207As it gets into 4 months of stocking comics, it should be come more clear what this particular store does with the unsold stock, stickers or otherwise.  In the meantime, its a question of what other publishers start showing up in the selection.


Have you read Todd’s book Economics of Digital Comics?  You can also ignore him on Twitter at@Real_Todd_Allen

3 Comments on Dark Horse Now At Books A Million Through Diamond, last added: 2/15/2015
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6. Thank You Comics in Highland Park to close

thankyou-10.png

This is a major bummer. Thank You Comics, the spinoff of Silverlake’s very successful Secret Headquarters, is closing at the end of the month according to their home page.

We appreciate your patronage the last couple of years. We have loved being a part of the neighborhood.

Make sure to visit our sister stores, Secret Headquarters (Silver Lake) and Dungeon Dungeon (inside The Last Bookstore) for all your comic book needs.

The space will be available on March 1st. For lease information please call (323) 570-2202.

Catch you on the flip,


Gift certificates are redeemable up until the closing.

Thank You opened in 2012 as a store focused on indies and GNS, and as you can see from their twitter background photo, they supported all the best stuff. Highland Park is a fairly trendy LA neighborhood so without knowing more about the situation it’s impossible to speculate on what closed the store.

As mentioned, Secrete Headquarters is still going strong though.

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3 Comments on Thank You Comics in Highland Park to close, last added: 2/8/2015
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7. You can now subscribe to Retrofit’s dynamite 2015 lineup

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If there’s such a thing as “a big micro press” Retrofit Comics might just apply. With a monthly schedule of small, attractive books by the premiere cartoonists working, they’ve put out some of the most notable comics of the past few years, including Wicked Chicken Queen by Sam Alden, Tom Hart’s Daddy Lightning, and Flocks by L. Nichols.

And now you can subscribe to the whole 2015 lineup, which is a stunner, including:

Olivier Schrauwen – Mowgli’s Mirror

Matt Madden – Drawn Out
Laura Knetzger – Sea Urchin
Laura Lannes
Box Brown – An Entity Observes All Things
Kate Leth
Yumi Sakugawa
Steven Weissman
Sophie Franz
Future Shock anthology – edited by Josh Burggraf
Andrew Lorenzi
Maré Odomo









Subscriptions for all 12 books are $75 and include PDF versions of each comic and TWO BONUS GIFTS AND a free 2014 Retrofit comic to give to a pal. PLUS, sign up before February 20th with codeword “earlybird” to get $10 off.

You can also buy a digital-only sub for $35.  Shipping is free within the United States and discounted shipping is available to Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and the UK, for only $12. Shipping internationally otherwise is $36.

According to publisher Box Brown, “2015 is our most ambitious year to date. We’ve got 12 artists on the schedule and all kinds of surprises coming too. The first two books of our 2015 schedule are Mowgli’s Mirror by Olivier Schrauwen and Drawn Onward by Matt Madden. Both books are exceptional comics by masters of the craft. We’re planning this year to create books of all sizes as well. Steven Weissman’s book, coming out at San Diego Comic Con, will be over 100 pages. The rest of the 2015 artists are all extremely talented personal favorites: Laura Lannes, Kate Leth, Laura Knetzger, Yumi Sakugawa, Sophie Franz, Maré Odomo, Andrew Lorenzi, and a special collection of Future Shock anthology; edited by Josh Burggraf. Oh yeah! Also, we’re releasing a collection of my sci-fi comics (reprints and new work) called An Entity Observes All Things.”

Jared Smith, co-publisher of Retrofit Comics, said, “This is a big experiment for us, we are hoping we will get more subscribers by dropping the cost of the subscription and shipping. For it to work, we need to get lots of subscribers! One of the biggest problems with mailing so many print comics each year is how expensive shipping has become, especially internationally. We were able to get some great help with shipping from Matt Emery of Pikitia Press and Simon Moreton.”

If you have even the slightest interest in alternative comics, this is a great deal—and it enables retrofit to keep putting out important new works by some of the best cartoonists around.

0 Comments on You can now subscribe to Retrofit’s dynamite 2015 lineup as of 1/1/1900
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8. The Retailer’s View: Punching the Ouroboros

THE END IS WHERE YOU START FROM

At the end of last year, I tendered my resignation at the comic shop I was managing. During my last year of employment, I had grown to feel out of place in the company, and was eager to try something different. I thought I’d take some time off to write more. I didn’t. Instead, I realized that I didn’t want to stop working behind the counter – I just wanted to do it on my own terms.

At the beginning of this year, I announced that I’d be starting a comic shop. This, is the story of January.

COLD TURKEY

Leaving the old store was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. As it turns out, the decision to leave was the easiest part of leaving. The hard part came in the form of things like not being able to process shipment or see all of my regulars. As weird as it sounds, I loved the work, all the way from figuring out how to order from a variant to matching customers to books that they were going to love. Right now, it still feels as though there’s a little part of my identity that’s missing, even as I fill that space with what’s to come. That said, I think I’m coping rather well. The wife has had to pull me out of a few funks and otherwise, the work of setting up a new shop is keeping me occupied. Quite honestly, everything would be fine if it wasn’t for the intensive detangling process it takes to set up a business.

gordian-knot

THE GORDIAN KNOT

Have you tried to set up a business before, faceless mass of readers? A few of you almost definitely have, and you’ve got a knowing grin slowly crawling across your face right now. Know that I hate you with admiration, in the way that a commenter would lovingly shake the hand of a comic creator were they to ever meet in person.

Anyway, laying down groundwork for a business is like trying to punch the face of an ouroboros or wrestle a gordian knot. Tasks require other tasks in order to be completed, everything pulling on itself at you gently try to work at the problem with great swinging fists. You need a business plan to do almost anything, but to get information for your business plan, you need a location. To get a location, you need to prove you have a viable concern before people will even talk to you beyond offering vague numbers. To do that, you need to work on your business plan, but your business plan can’t be completed until you get SPECIFIC numbers from a landlord. Also, the insurance folks won’t give you a good quote unless you give them a location. Specific to comics retail, Diamond won’t give you information regarding your retailer discounts until you have a business license, which you also need a location for, but again, you can’t really give the loan people and the landlord the business plan without those specific numbers.

This goes on and on and gets more complicated the further you dig inwards. Suffice to say, it takes a while to untangle. As it stands, we’re still waiting on a location to be locked down to my satisfaction, after which all things will move at a blistering hyper speed. Everything is ready and being held in place, I’m just waiting for the foundation to be ready before I set the weight of everything on top of it.

IN THE MEANTIME

There’s a lot to do when you’re in the “hurry up and wait” portion. First and foremost, it’s important to do your homework. Not only do you need to keep track of all the spinning plates, you need to keep track of where the industry is going, and grab numbers for that. You need to dig your hands into the area you think you’re going to open in and pull out everything you have. What’s the make of the population? How’s the economy? How might one area benefit you over another? Does that balance with the budget you have to pay the lease when you get those numbers? Do those locations have viable parking options? If not, do you need to talk to the community league about potential problems before an audit is done, and your business is deemed unsuitable for the space? What specific licenses and permits might you need in your specific region? There’s a hell of a lot to research and ask about while the larger cogs are slowly grinding and catching.

© DIsney

How is this relevant? Who cares. That right there, is shirtless Chris Pratt, and he is always relevant.

Aside from that kind of research, you should also consider what you should have in place for when you announce your store. First and foremost, you need a name. The earlier you have one, the better, because then everything you make will have that name on it. After that, get a website locked down. In this day and age, there is no excuse for a business not to have a website, even if it’s just a simple landing page with your location and hours on it. Build a website or have one built while things are happening. Make a list of all the things you want that site to do, and make sure it will do those things. Once that’s started, start grabbing social media accounts. Contemplate the ones that you might actually use on a regular basis (or those that you’ll begrudgingly use due to their ability to reach the audience you need) and start locking those down. In all instances, attempt to make sure you can match your business’ username across all platforms so that your customers don’t have to blindly feel around to find you on anything – they can just type a phrase, and find you everywhere.

Another thing you can do? Start up an inventory. Use whatever you have, and start cataloguing in some format. If you have a pretty sizeable comic collection, I’d suggest starting with pulling everything you have the stomach to part with. Try and put as many things that you own into the store’s inventory. If you’re having a tough time, try to contemplate the future. Do you think you’ll be successful? Successful enough to buy back many of your dearly departed items in a few years time? Then get rid of it. The more you can add to your store inventory, the better you look to loaners, and the less you’ll have to spend at start up. If you still can’t bring yourself to part with too much, you might have to ask yourself if you really think the business will be successful if you’re willing to hold back a lot of choice product that could be sold to keep you afloat.

Beyond that, there’s hundreds of other things to consider. Even though I’ve spent the better part of a month attempting to research and pin down everything, I can almost guarantee there are things that I’ll discover I’ve forgotten, and I will have to deal with the consequences that as they come. That said, if I’ve done any of this right, in a few months, I should be opening my doors to an audience built from years of hard work, and a few months of carefully metered anticipation.

Here’s hoping things work out.

[Brandon Schatz has spent the last eight years working behind the comic book counter, and he will soon be opening Variant Edition in Edmonton, Alberta. In his spare time, he writes about the comics and culture. You can find him on twitter @soupytoasterson and at his website, Submetropolitan. The opinions expressed are those of Schatz and do not necessarily reflect those of The Beat.]

0 Comments on The Retailer’s View: Punching the Ouroboros as of 2/4/2015 10:14:00 AM
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9. Archie Joins the Humble Bundle Bandwagon; Image Scores with 2nd Bundle

ALBV logo 285x300 Archie Joins the Humble Bundle Bandwagon; Image Scores with 2nd BundleBy Bruce Lidl

Following immediately on the conclusion of the second Image Comics Humble Bundle, Archie Comics has joined the Humble Bundle comics movement with its first release. Humble Bundles are curated collections of digital comics available under a “pay what you want” revenue model. Customers can choose their payment amount for the basic pack, or spend extra money for additional content. Customers can also choose what percentage of their payment goes to the publisher, to the Humble Bundle company and to a charity picked for the bundle, in this case either the Hero Initiative or the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Also, all Humble Bundle comic collections are sold in variety of formats, with absolutely no DRM restrictions embedded in them.

Past digital comics Humble Bundles have proven very popular and generated considerable revenue for publishers and charities. The first Image Humble Bundle in April 2014 received almost $400,000 in payments, while the just completed Image bundle got over $450,000, and appears to have been the highest grossing comics bundle so far.

Today’s Archie bundle contains Afterlife With Archie Magazine #1, The Fox: Freak Magnet, Sonic/Mega Man: Worlds Collide Vol. 1, and The Best of Archie Book One. Customers that pay more than the going average price also get The Death of Archie, Archie Meets KISS, The Best of Archie Book Two, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1, and Sonic/Mega Man: Worlds Collide Vol. 2., while those who pay $15 or more will receive all of the above plus Afterlife With Archie Vol. 1: Escape From Riverdale, Archie Comics Spectacular: Party Time, Archie: The Married Life Vol. 1, and Sonic/Mega Man: Worlds Collide Vol. 3. Other incentive titles will likely get added over the course of the bundle’s two week run.

At this point, the sole remaining publisher holdouts from Humble Bundle appear to be Marvel and DC. While initially designed for independent video gaming publishers, even rather large gaming companies have used Humble Bundle since its inception in 2010, including EA and THQ. Interestingly, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment participated in a gaming Humble Bundle in November 2013 that included comics themed games Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, distributed through the Steam gaming platform. Whether that might indicate a broader Warner Brothers/DC openness to the Humble Bundle philosophy remains to be seen.

3 Comments on Archie Joins the Humble Bundle Bandwagon; Image Scores with 2nd Bundle, last added: 1/22/2015
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10. Marvel and Image on the Newsstand: More Details Emerging About Diamond and Books A Million

bam star wars 219x300 Marvel and Image on the Newsstand: More Details Emerging About Diamond and Books A Million

BAM’s exclusive Star Wars #1 variant cover. Oh, yes, they’re part of the DM now.

When last we discussed what was going on with Diamond and Books A Million (BAM), it wasn’t entirely clear what was going on, other than there were comics on sale and they were coming from Diamond, bagged & boarded.  Interestingly, _nobody_ wanted to comment about their monthly comics being available at BAM.  Diamond would not give a written confirmation this was happening, although I got a verbal confirmation that BAM was a customer and the books were not returnable.

How often do publishers NOT want to tell you where you can buy their books?  Or a retail chain doesn’t want to tell you what they carry?

I did eventually get some information from that most notorious of informants, “the unnamed source.”  As usual, “unnamed” was in a position to clarify what was going on.  There are apparently around 70 BAM-owned stores getting shipments from Diamond.  All 23 of the “2nd & Charles” used book chain owned by BAM and 40-ish BAM stores.  This apparently started back around August, so it appears to be a rollout with my local store only coming online in December.

My source says 25-30 titles are being ordered and that lines up with what I’ve seen in person.  Most of the comics in the store near me appear to have 3 copies at most and as it goes into the second month of stocking the DM titles, there are multiple issues of some titles on the rack.  It’s a mix of Marvel, Image and IDW.  Heavier on the Marvel, if all the stores stock the same.

Now, going back to 2nd & Charles, I was informed that they were doing pull lists.  I called one up.  Sure enough, they had pull lists.  And I didn’t have to explain what a pull list was, either, which is interesting, since I’d consider that a DM-centric term.  I also asked if they could special order a comic?  The response was that they could make a request, but it wouldn’t necessarily get filled.  In contrast, I asked the local BAM if they could place a special order for me and they said they only got what the distributor sent them.

I surmise from those responses that the ordering for BAM is still fairly centralized, which would make a certain amount of sense if it isn’t completely rolled out and/or is still in a pilot stage.  (BAM didn’t return phone calls or emails on the topic.)

I also see BAM has their very own Star Wars #1 variant cover, so they’re being a fairly active participant in stocking Marvel.  Looked like a 10 copy order for my local, much heavier than anything else.

So, 250 BAM stores at 3 copies per title = 750 copies for anything they carry at such a time as it becomes a full rollout.  Maybe they order heavier on some things, maybe they don’t.  At what point the stores get the authority/ability to place special orders with Diamond is a very interesting question, since there’s no reason someone with an account shouldn’t be able to do so.

It may or may not be a coincidence that Dark Horse has disappeared off the newsstand at both BAM and Barnes & Noble in my area.  I’m waiting to see if Dark Horse turns up bagged & boarded at BAM.

I’m also waiting to see if Marvel, Image and IDW turn up at Barnes & Noble.  That’s pure speculation, but Hastings has a relationship with Diamond.  BAM has a relationship with Diamond.  I can’t imagine Diamond not trying to get some product placement on the Barnes & Noble newsstand.

The number of Direct Market comic shops is thought to be around 2600.  Adding in 250 BAMs bumps it around 9%, even if it’s a limited selection.  Barnes & Noble would be more like 750 locations.  We’ll see if it happens, but Diamond’s reach is getting wider with BAM and more places to buy is a good thing for anybody whose title gets picked up, although I suspect that DM retailers are not going to be particularly happy about this development.

——————

Have you read Todd’s book Economics of Digital Comics?  You can also ignore him on Twitter at @Real_Todd_Allen

4 Comments on Marvel and Image on the Newsstand: More Details Emerging About Diamond and Books A Million, last added: 1/21/2015
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11. Comichron: Comics sales overcame stinky winter to go up this year

BY JOHN JACKSON MILLER

[Reprinted with permission from Comichron]

With today’s release of December comics orders from Diamond Comic Distributors — and our subsequent analysis and estimates for December 2014 comics sales now posted — Comichron has drawn upon that information to project estimates for the Top Thousand Comics and the Top Thousand Graphic Novels for 2014. Click to see them.
201404AmazingSpiderManV3n1 Comichron: Comics sales overcame stinky winter to go up this yearThe tables are on the page just beneath the image links to individual months. As in past years, it is a large page, necessarily, so it may take a bit to load. Also as in the past, I have rounded off estimates to the nearest hundred comics.

Before launching into a discussion of what’s on the list, some more general thoughts on 2014, now that we’ve seen all the data:

• Last winter stank, but it didn’t matter. Headlines for comics sales in January, February, and March 2014 were dire in many places (though not here); the Direct Market was off 4% in the first quarter, overall, or about $5 million. But comics shops made that up in April alone. Across the next three quarters. the market was up 7.1%, or $28 million — allowing the final comics and graphic novel total sale for the year to be up more than 4%, or $23 million to $540.4 million.

It’s a good reminder that not all sales seasons are created equal (especially not as January 2014 had one of its weeks given to December 2013 in the accounting), and that the amount of volume in the market is what matters. It is also a good reminder as we look ahead to the figures for the first part of this year, which will be infused by Star Wars #1‘s blockbuster sales: its effect is likely to be even further amplified given the lower amount of releases to the market in the winter. The addition of a million-copy book to a market that might only see 6 or 7 million copies sold in January could be quite significant.

• 2014 was not the year of the blockbuster — despite a new record-setting comic book. As noted further below, Amazing Spider-Man #1 from April broke all sales records from the last fifteen years — but it was largely an outlier, as six months out of twelve the top-seller for the month was the book that leads the list when no blockbusters are around: Batman. (Not that Batman’s sales haven’t been blockbuster some months in the past, just that it is the typical industry leader in non-event months.) This seems to have played out in the charts in general, as we see in the Top Thousand and the larger indexes that the upper tier books didn’t carry as much weight this year, even as comics sales overall grew.

Here’s some visible evidence of the shape of the market, as seen on the lists. We find the following breakdowns for unit sales:

NUMBER OF COMIC BOOK ISSUES SELLING
AT LEAST THIS MANY COPIES DURING YEAR

 
200,000+ 100,000+ 75,000+ 50,000+ 25,000+ 10,000+ 2009 2 39 119 379 n.a. n.a. 2010 0 26 94 303 955 n.a. 2011 3 42 86 343 984 n.a. 2012 5 63 129 403 1100 2250 2013 6 64 178 390 1128 2430 2014 4 40 108 401 1195 2353
Another way to look at the above is: where does the 100,000-copy level start on the chart? In 2010, every book above 26th place sold that many copies or more; in 2014, six-figures started at 40th place.

As you can see, the upper tiers, above 75,000 copies, fell off dramatically from 2013 to 2014. But the next tiers bulked up. The best guess is that about 3,800 comics sold at least 5,000 copies — which makes sense, considering that’s about where the 300th place cutoff is each month these days.

Now to that list. The Top Thousand Comics account for around 52.07 million copies; that’s well over half of all the comics that Diamond sold. The figure is down from 54.21 million copies in 2013, though Diamond’s unit sales of comics overall were up 0.25%.  In 2012 the figure was 53.43 million copies; in 2011, it was 47 million copies, and in 2010, the total was 45.3 million copies.

Using our database to project sales for other issues, it appears that the Top 2,500 Comics for the year sold around 78 million copies, down from 79 million in 2013. So the farther down the list we go, the more the unit sales picture improves.

In full retail dollars, the Top Thousand Comics sold for $201.03 million, a $1 million drop from last year’s total of $202.02 million. (See the 2013 article here and charts here.) Again, since Diamond’s dollar sales for comics were up 4%, it’s clear that the highest-selling comics were not where the growth was last year — but rather, the titles selling fewer than 25,000 copies each. And it’s growth from 2012’s figure, which was $191.4 million. (See the 2012 article here and charts here.)

Doing the same estimating for the Top 2,500 Comics puts 2014 ahead of 2013, $294 million versus $288 million.

Once again this year, almost every single one of the Top 100 comics on the list had a “multiple order codes” notation from Diamond, meaning there were variant covers or reprints combined to make the main entry.

The Top Thousand Graphic Novels, led by Saga Vol. 3, went for $81.19 million, up from $79.03 million in 2013, from $71.4 million in 2012, and from $58.4 million in 2011. Combined, the Top Thousand Comics and Top Thousand Graphic Novel lists account for about 52% of the orders by dollars Diamond received in publishing last year, which was around $540 million. That percentage is down from 54% in 2013 and 55% in 2012. Again, the best-selling books are accounting for less and less, even as the pie grows larger.

TOP COMICS OF THE YEAR, DECADE, AND CENTURY


The renumbered Amazing Spider-Man #1 was the top seller of the year; Comichron estimates that, all told, around 559,200 copies of the issue, including all variants, were ordered by Direct Market retailers in North America. That’s enough to make it the highest-selling comic book of the 21st Century through the end of 2014; Marvel’s Star Wars #1, released last week, will easily surpass it, but we won’t see it on the list until Diamond releases its 2015 end-of-year data next year.

So it will be a short reign for the Spider-Man issue atop the list — less than a year. The issue takes the spot held for five years by the Obama Amazing Spider-Man #583, with orders of 530,500 copies in 2009. You can see the updated top-sellers by year here.

The entire Top Comics of the 21st Century list has been updated, and it has been split into lists for thedecade of 2000-2009 and the decade of the 2010s. One more comic book from 2014, Walking Dead#132, cracked the Top 10 for the Century, landing at #8. It’s the third year in a row an issue from the series has broken into the list, but this one comes with a dagger in our charts, noting that most of its sales came from a single gigantic purchase by the repackager Loot Crate. While the copies were sold by Diamond and can’t be separated out, it is worth some kind of footnote so readers in future years will know why this one issue ranked the way it did.

The Top 10 since 2000, up to 2014:

TEN MOST ORDERED COMIC BOOKS OF THE 21ST CENTURY (up to 2014)
  Comic-book Title Issue Ship Price Publisher Est. sales
1 Amazing Spider-Man (new series) 1 Apr-14 $5.99 Marvel 559,200
2 Amazing Spider-Man 583 Jan-09 $3.99 Marvel 530,500
3 Walking Dead (including Chromium edition) 100 Jul-12 $3.99 Image 384,800
4 Civil War 2 Jun-06 $2.99 Marvel 341,900
5 Civil War 3 Jul-06 $2.99 Marvel 337,000
6 Walking Dead 115 Oct-13 $2.99 Image 329,300
7 Civil War 1 Feb-13 $3.99 Marvel 328,500
8 Walking Dead† 132 Oct-14 $2.99 Image 326,300
9 Justice League of America 1 Feb-13 $3.99 DC 326,000
10 Captain America 25 Mar-07 $3.99 Marvel 317,700

Uncanny Avengers #1 and Civil War #4 were bumped from the Top 10.

Fourteen issues from 2014 made the Top 300 for the 21st Century list, once again fewer than last year. Five 2014 issues made the Top 100, and four made the Top 50.

THE PUBLISHERS
Who published the Top Thousand Comics this year? Here’s the breakdown:

Marvel: 512 (+20 from 2013)
DC: 407 (-3 from 2013)
Image: 57 (+8 from 2013)
Dark Horse: 14 (-4 from 2013)

Archie: 4
(+3 from 2013)
Titan: 3 (+3 from 2013)
IDW: 1
(-14 from 2013)
Valiant: 1 (unchanged from 2013)
Dynamite: 1 (unchanged from 2013)

That’s a pretty short list, with Aspen and Boom dropping out. Titan made the list, thanks to Doctor Who. Marvel picked up a bunch, while the biggest drop-off belonged to IDW, mostly for the reason that My Little Pony isn’t as high on the charts as it was in 2013.

And here’s the publisher breakdown of the Top Thousand Graphic Novels. Those with 10 or more entries:

DC: 393 (+31 from 2013)
Marvel: 251 (-37 from 2013)
Image: 115 (+19 from 2013)
Dark Horse: 88 (-3 from 2013) 
IDW: 36 (-6 from 2013)
Random House: 25 (+8 from 2013)
Boom: 19 (+7 from 2013)

Viz: 17 (+1 from 2013)
Oni: 10 (+1 from 2013)

Marvel’s loss is almost the size of DC’s gain, and Image picked up a lot. Random House and Boom also made headway into the list.

Walking Dead softcovers and hardcovers in the Top 2,500 added up to more than $6.5 million at retail — with comics bringing the total for the line up to nearly $10.8 million. That’s enough to give it a market share of exactly 2%, which would make it once again the seventh largest publisher for the year, after Dynamitewere it a separate firm.

COVER PRICES

The average cost of the comic books retailers ordered in the Top Thousand was $3.86, but that goes down to $3.79 when you extend the chart to the Top 2,500. The average comic book offered in 2014 only cost $3.72, so people are tending toward the more expensive comics. This may also explain why the books at the top of the charts aren’t pulling the same weight as they had before when it comes to number of units moved: the books atop the charts were more likely to cost more.With the December data, we now have a 20-year monthly track on comics sales. While average prices on the covers of all offerings (the black line) and the average price of all the comics retailers bought (the red line) have been increasing, we note that they haven’t been too far off what prices would have been if they followed inflation exactly. The green line below tracks what the average comic book at the end of 2014 — $2.25 — would have cost if it followed the inflation rate exactly:
 MonthlypricesvsCPI Comichron: Comics sales overcame stinky winter to go up this year

Since comics are linked to prices to other goods and services — like paper and ink, and what it costs to hire talent — it’s not too surprising that the average prices tend to have been a bit higher. And we can see that there have been times in which prices have increased faster than others: particularly 2008-2010, when major publishers tried to go from $2.99 to $3.99 in defiance of the general recession the rest of the economy was suffering. Comics publishers pulled back on price increases at that point. But generally, we might expect that a $2.25 comic book in 1994 ought to cost about $3.50 now — which it might if most publishers didn’t eschew half-dollar increments. We’re not far off of that.

To a degree, some of the perception of high comics prices comes from a lack of collective memory about what comics used to cost: look back on monthly changes over time and annual median prices since 1961 here. And the track of the green line above would be different depending on what year it started in: 1994 was a year in which paper supply was in great demand, and so that $2.25 baseline could already have been high. But there generally haven’t been many wild departures from inflation in the general economy in the last 20 years.

Repeating the end-of-year report, the comic shop market in North America ordered more than $540 million worth of comics and graphic novels in 2014, an increase of 4% over 2013. The final end-of-year report, bringing in outside channels and digital, will appear later this year. You can look back on the 2013 Overall charts here.

There are 23 other years of Diamond annual reports on the site, going back to 1991. You can also find comparatives for how the market as a whole did across that time by viewing our Yearly Comics Salespage.

ST TNG Takedown Cvr%2B100%2Bwide Comichron: Comics sales overcame stinky winter to go up this yearJohn Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry’s retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, and the upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation – Takedown, releasing January 27. Visit his fiction site athttp://www.farawaypress.com.

5 Comments on Comichron: Comics sales overcame stinky winter to go up this year, last added: 1/22/2015
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12. Sales Charts: Marvel and DC split top shares in December 2014 sales

Batman 37 Sales Charts: Marvel and DC split top shares in December 2014 sales

Yawn. Batman and Saga led the comics and graphic nvoels charts for Decembers 2014, as they so often do, according to just released stats from Diamond. Batman #37 was the best selling comics periodical, while Saga Vol. 4 led the GNs. Marvel and DC actually split the top publisher shares, with Marvel leading in dollars and DC in units. Image hovered around 10% in both units and dollars, with another strong month.

And after 2014’s slow start things picked up a lot: comics sales were up 4.03% over 2013, graphic novel were up 5.18% and the second half of 2014 was up sharply from the first half: 19.34% in comics and 10.54% in graphic novels.

While Saga’s strong showing is no surprise in GNs, maybe it is a little that the #2 GN was Captain America: Peggy Carter: Agent of SHIELD which reprinted a bunch of her appearances from the Golden Age on. That a TV tie-in should do well isn’t such a surprise, but in the past that hasn’t always worked for Marvel and of course, it’s yet another female led title doing well.

 

dollar share1 Sales Charts: Marvel and DC split top shares in December 2014 sales unit share1 Sales Charts: Marvel and DC split top shares in December 2014 sales

TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

PUBLISHER DOLLAR

SHARE

UNIT

SHARE

MARVEL COMICS 32.07% 34.10% DC COMICS 31.76% 36.17% IMAGE COMICS 9.89% 10.40% IDW PUBLISHING 6.10% 4.17% DARK HORSE COMICS 3.47% 2.95% BOOM! STUDIOS 2.66% 2.82% DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT 2.58% 2.26% EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS 1.22% 0.22% ARCHIE COMICS 0.88% 0.91% AVATAR PRESS 0.86% 0.74% OTHER NON-TOP 10 8.50% 5.25%

NEW TITLES SHIPPED

PUBLISHER COMICS SHIPPED GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED MAGAZINES SHIPPED TOTAL

SHIPPED

DC COMICS 102 36 1 139 MARVEL COMICS 77 24 0 101 IMAGE COMICS 52 18 0 70 IDW PUBLISHING 44 24 0 68 BOOM! STUDIOS 42 6 0 48 DARK HORSE COMICS 30 12 0 42 DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT 33 3 0 36 VIZ MEDIA 0 22 0 22 ACTION LAB ENTERTAINMENT 15 1 0 16 HACHETTE BOOK GROUP USA 0 16 0 16 OTHER 94 81 31 206

 

COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

  DOLLARS UNITS
DECEMBER 2014 VS. NOVEMBER 2014
COMICS 1.77% 0.31%
GRAPHIC NOVELS -18.50% -21.51%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -5.14% -1.64%
DECEMBER 2014 VS. DECEMBER 2013
COMICS 6.67% 4.50%
GRAPHIC NOVELS -5.41% -8.39%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 2.83% 3.46%
CALENDAR YEAR 2014 VS. CALENDAR YEAR 2013
COMICS 4.03% 0.25%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 5.18% 5.28%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 4.39% 0.64%
FOURTH QUARTER 2014 VS. THIRD QUARTER 2014
COMICS -2.90% -1.57%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 6.31% 4.02%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -0.20% -1.16%
FOURTH QUARTER 2014 VS. FOURTH QUARTER 2013
COMICS 7.89% 7.05%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 7.56% 6.13%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 7.78% 6.98%
SECOND-HALF 2014 VS. FIRST-HALF 2014
COMICS 19.34% 18.58%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 10.54% 4.26%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 16.53% 17.36%

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 BATMAN #37 $3.99 OCT140293-M DC
2 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #11 $3.99 OCT140829-M MAR
3 S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 $4.99 OCT140813-M MAR
4 BATMAN ANNUAL #3 $4.99 OCT140297 DC
5 THOR #3 $3.99 OCT140862-M MAR
6 JUSTICE LEAGUE #37 $3.99 OCT140223-M DC
7 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 $4.99 OCT140824-M MAR
8 AVENGERS AND X-MEN: AXIS #7 $3.99 OCT140781-M MAR
9 AVENGERS AND X-MEN: AXIS #9 $4.99 OCT140787-M MAR
10 AVENGERS AND X-MEN: AXIS #8 $3.99 OCT140784-M MAR


TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 SAGA VOLUME 4 TP (MR) $14.99 OCT140644 IMA
2 CAPTAIN AMERICA: PEGGY CARTER: AGENT OF SHIELD $7.99 OCT140823 MAR
3 JUST THE TIPS HC (MR) $12.99 SEP140590 IMA
4 THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS VOL. 5: THE COLD WAR TP $14.99 SEP140630 IMA
5 SUNSTONE VOLUME 1 TP (MR) $14.99 OCT140613 IMA
6 SUPERMAN UNCHAINED DELUXE EDITION HC $29.99 AUG140334 DC
7 BATMAN: THE JIRO KUWATA BATMANGA VOLUME 1 TP $14.99 SEP140283 DC
8 NEW 52: FUTURES END VOLUME 1 TP (N52) $39.99 SEP140303 DC
9 NIGHTWING VOLME 5: SETTING SON TP (N52) $16.99 SEP140309 DC
10 THE WALKING DEAD VOLUME 1: DAYS GONE BYE TP $14.99 NOV128157 IMA

TOP 10 BOOKS

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 DREAM LOGIC HC $34.99 AUG140029 DAR
2 THE SHADOW DOUBLE NOVEL VOLUME 89 SC $14.95 SEP141909 SAN
3 THE SHADOW DOUBLE NOVEL VOLUME 90 SC $14.95 OCT141853 SAN
4 DOC SAVAGE DOUBLE NOVEL VOLUME 78 SC $14.95 SEP141908 SAN
5 DOCTOR WHO VISUAL DICTIONARY: UPDATED EXPANDED HC $25.00 OCT141845 DK
6 STAR TREK: SHIPS OF THE LINE: REVISED & UPDATED HC $30.00 SEP141911 POC
7 DOCTOR WHO: 12 DOCTORS 12 STORIES SLIPCASE EDITIOIN $24.99 JUN148309 PEN
8 SWORD ART ONLINE VOLUME 3: FAIRY DANCE $13.00 OCT141784 HAC
9 CATS OF TANGLEWOOD FOREST SC $8.00 OCT141850 HAC
10 LEGEND OF ZELDA: HYRULE HISTORIA HC $34.99 SEP120055 DAR

TOP 10 TOYS

RANK DESCRIPTION ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS: HOLIDAY HARLEY QUINN STATUE JUL140302 DC
2 DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS: ZATANNA STATUE JUN140324 DC
3 DC COMICS DESIGNER SERIES 2: CAPULLO DELUXE BATMAN THRASHER ACTION FIGURE MAY140428 DC
4 LEGEND OF ZELA: WIND WAKER LINK NENDOROID MAY142613 GOO
5 BATMAN ARKHAM ORIGINS ACTION FIGURE 4-PACK JUL140295 DC
6 BATMAN BLACK & WHITE STATUE BY MICHAEL TURNER JUN140319 DC
7 METROID: OTHER M: SAMUS ARAN FIGMA ACTION FIGURE JUN132073 GOO
8 MARVEL SELECT: VENOM ACTION FIGURE AUG121762 DIA
9 DC COMICS DESIGNER SERIES 3: ZERO YEAR BATMAN ACTION FIGURE AUG140379 DC
10 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY PLATINUM LEGENDS ACTION FIGURES MAY142325 HAS


TOP 10 GAMES

RANK DESCRIPTION ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 MONOPOLY: THE WALKING DEAD SURVIVAL EDITION OCT128266 USA
2 MINECRAFT: OFFICIAL MOJANG COMBAT HANDBOOK HC FEB142547 SCH
3 MINECRAFT: OFFICIAL MOJANG CONSTRUCTION HANDBOOK HC FEB142548 SCH
4 LEGEND OF ZELDA MONOPOLY JUL142617 USA
5 MARVEL DICE MASTERS UNCANNY X-MEN AUG142843 NEC
6 TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES RETRO MONOPOLY OCT142798 USA
7 FIREFLY CLUE OCT142797 USA
8 THE WALKING DEAD: YAHTZEE COLLECTOR’S EDITION OCT142799 USA
9 DC DECK BUILDING GAME 3: FOREVER EVIL JUN142618 CRY
10 DOCTOR WHO: DALEK YAHTZEE COLLECTOR’S EDITION OCT142796 USA

7 Comments on Sales Charts: Marvel and DC split top shares in December 2014 sales, last added: 1/19/2015
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13. Image Does Humble Bundle Once Again

humble3 300x269 Image Does Humble Bundle Once Again

By Bruce Lidl

Lost somewhat in the initial burst of news from last week’s ImageExpo was the announcement of a new Image Humble Bundle offering, beginning that morning and lasting until January 21. The “Humble Image Comics Bundle 2: Image Firsts” is a massive collection of digital comics that can be purchased for whatever price the consumer chooses. Included in the basic bundle are the beginning issues of a number of recent series, including Alex + Ada, Deadly Class, C.O.W.L., Elephantmen 2260 Book One, Minimum Wage, God Hates Astronauts, Genius, and Satellite Sam. Paying at least $15 also gets you the slightly higher profile titles The Manhattan Projects, The Wicked + The Divine, The Fuse, Velvet, Sex Criminals, Wytches, The Walking Dead Vol. 22: A New Beginning (#127-132), The Fade Out #1, Nailbiter, Stray Bullets, Southern Bastards, and Shutter. And finally, a stretch price of $18 brings The Walking Dead Compendium One (#1-48), East of West: The World, and Saga Book One (#1-18). For anybody at all interested in Image brand comics, the price truly cannot be beat, especially as the retail price of the comics would be over $300 according to Humble Bundle. Also, purchasers are strongly encouraged to mark a portion of their price paid towards charity, in this case the comics creator focused Hero Initiative. As of this evening, the Image bundle has generated almost $318,000, with over five days left to go.

The current offering is the third Humble Bundle to include Image titles. The first time Humble Bundle included any digital comics was the Image bundle in April 2014 that generated almost $400,000 revenue in two weeks, with titles including Saga, Walking Dead, Fatale, Invincible and Chew. Image imprint Skybound also did a special Comic-Con Humble Bundle in July 2014 as well, which was almost entirely Kirkman based titles such as The Walking Dead, Invincible, Thief of Thieves, and Super Dinosaur. That bundle alone generated $232,000.

Other comic publishers that have released Humble Bundles since April include Dark Horse, Oni, Dynamite, BOOM!, IDW, Top Shelf and Valiant. According to Kelley Allen, Director of Books for Humble Bundle, comics publishers are eager to work with them, and she has a number of ebook and comics bundles planned in 2015 alongside Humble Bundle’s traditional gaming focused offerings. The average revenue number for the comics based bundles so far has been $288,000 for the 14 day period. According to Allen, non-gaming bundles allow Humble to “break out from their core gaming audience” but from the comics perspective, they can also create “enormous crossover” by getting great comics in front of the very large Humble Bundle community. With a very clearly defined, and devoted, young male demographic, Humble Bundle chooses comics with both a logical appeal, like Transformers, Star Wars and The Walking Dead, but Allen also curates high quality titles that may stretch demographic borders. She “pushed very hard” to include titles like Sex Criminals in the latest Image bundle, trusting the Humble Bundle audience to appreciate an outstanding title, even without prior awareness.

humble1 222x300 Image Does Humble Bundle Once Again

While the Humble Bundles may help expand the reach of digital comics, they are also helping to encourage comics publishers to feel comfortable with forgoing DRM protections for their products. Humble Bundles, regardless of content, gaming or ebooks, do not use Digital Rights Management anti-copying technologies, both for philosophical reasons and from a practical standpoint. As Allen pointed out, why use DRM when the consumer could theoretically decide to purchase the content for one cent in any case? Even Dark Horse, which has been very reluctant to forgo DRM generally, was convinced to try not using it for their big Star Wars themed Humble Bundle in October and was rewarded with sales over $375,000 for the two week offering.

Fundamentally, the Humble Bundle “pay what you want” approach reflects exactly the insights independent game developers have learned over the years in regards to digital sales. Since their products are almost universally available to be pirated, often in formats that are actually *more* user friendly than the official versions, game creators have learned to embrace the concept of giving customers compelling reasons to purchase, in the recognition that they do not have to anymore. Distribution options like Steam and Humble Bundle provide explicit value beyond what a pirated version can give, whether through ease of use, personal connection to the creators, community recognition, charitable giving, etc. The Humble Bundle experiment really leverages the unique potential of digital distribution, as the pay what you want model could not really scale in a system that necessitated fulfillment and postage charges. With this almost “donation” type model there is no extra expense for the seller after the first sale, everything after that is essentially “profit.” And the possibility that the new readers exposed to the material may become fans, and go on to make further purchases, even print purchases in local comic books stores, only heightens the value of the Humble Bundle offering. We are likely to see a number of interesting comics based bundles in 2015 and we will learn if this kind of non-traditional sales can become a significant portion of publishers’ revenue, in much the same way digital has already established itself recently.

1 Comments on Image Does Humble Bundle Once Again, last added: 1/16/2015
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14. St. Louis’s Star Clipper Comics to close

58867 10151457870084006 1506496155 n St. Louiss Star Clipper Comics to close

This is really sad. In a letter to customers, Ben and A.J. Trujillo, the owners of Star Clipepr COMis in Stalous, have announced the store is closing, with a liquidation sale beginning on Saturday. Opened in 1988, and going through three ownership changes, Star Clipper was always in front of retailing trends, and the Trujillos had definitely built up a great relationship with their community—as evidenced by the outpouring of support on their FB page—carrying a wide selection of comics for adults and kids, with a strong emphasis on female customers. Recent signings include Neal Adams, Cullen Bunn, Chris Samnee, Michael DeForge, Kate Leth, Tim Lane, Jeff Weigel, so you can see how eclectic their domain was.

As for the reasons for the closing, they are laid out in a excellent, detailed piece in St. Louis Magazine

“The decision’s been a long time coming,” Ben Trujillo confirmed yesterday. “It’s been bandied about for almost two years. The economy tanked in 2008, and we weathered that fairly well. There’ve been changes in the demographics of the area and in comic readers in general, which has made things unpredictable, as we buy products on an unreturnable basis. And with the social things happening in St. Louis, those’ve impacted business, as well. It’s sad to be the people who are shutting it down, but we feel a great sense of ownership and don’t necessarily see someone else’s custodianship here.”

To date, the news about Star Clipper’s end was kept tight, with only workers and, according to Trujillo, “a few select customers” knowing. (The Trujillos are the business’ third owners in 27 years.)

“Everyone’s been really disappointed and sad,” he said. “Everyone’s really disappointed. Surprisingly, a lot have said that they’ll stop reading comics. Or they’ve said that they’ll move to reading digitally. For a lot of people, it’s a shock. They see the store and have no idea what’s happening behind-the-scenes.

 
This is certainly a blowtogood comics and good comics customers in the St. Louis area. I had the great pleasure of working with Carol Denbow back in the Friends of Lulu Days, one of Star Clippers former owners, and a very ahead of her time retailer. I always thought of the shop as being out ahead of the curve. This store will be missed.

[Photo via the Star Clipper FB page]

6 Comments on St. Louis’s Star Clipper Comics to close, last added: 1/18/2015
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15. The Retailer’s View: This Time, It’s Personal

I was pacing the store shovelling mouthfuls of poutine into my mouth. The store’s owner and my replacement were going over initial order numbers for February, talking about comics I wouldn’t be around to sell. I wanted to interrupt on almost every line order to chime in with advice, but I know that wouldn’t be helpful. I know what to order if I’m around to sell comics. I don’t know what to order when I’m gone. This was why the poutine was important. It was the only thing keeping me from burbling over and offering opinions I had no reason to give.

sss 15 The Retailers View: This Time, Its Personal

Because: Canada.

It was a few days before Christmas, and I was having trouble letting go. I’d been at the store for over eight years, and had taken quite a bit of ownership over the culture of it, from the general atmosphere, right down to the ordering process. I wanted it to stay the same… but it can’t. It won’t. It shouldn’t.

Comic shops are like thumbprints, their make-up determined largely by parentage and circumstance. It starts at the root with the owner or manager of the shop, and the kind of experience that they want to build. While an owner should always endeavour to be inclusive when marketing to their customers, even the most delicate hand and even-tempered sales tactics give way to taste. People find it easier to market to those with similar tastes, and will sometimes do so without thought. For instance, when you hear the words “I’ve never read a comic before, what do you recommend?” – what is your first thought? What is your go-to book? I used to respond by asking what genres they were looking for, or what movies, tv shows or books they liked to read before moving onto the next step, but even then, personal bias would bubble up in my recommendations and would inevitably affect my sales and clientele.

Beyond that, there is a myriad of other things that affect the shape and feel of the store. Some of it comes down to what you’ll tolerate in the walls of your shop. What kind of jokes do you allow to pass? Is judgement passed on what is purchased, either positively or negatively? How active is the sales staff when you walk into the shop? Do they leave customers to their own devices? Do they say hello or offer a helping hand unprompted? When a customer offers up a fact, is it contested when it’s wrong? If so, how and when? Are female customers noted? Are they treated similarly to a male customer, or does the atmosphere change? The answers to all of these questions and hundreds more affect who walks through the doors of a shop, and with what frequency. It will affect everything – what is purchased, how it’s purchased, when, why and by whom.

Going further out from there, a store’s location will often affect what is sold almost as much as who is selling and how. At my old digs, we had three locations at one point, and each couldn’t have been more different from each other in terms of demographic. They were owned by the same three guys, but each sold product in vastly different ways. The stores located in more residential areas did far more in items like Pokemon cards and superhero comics than the one located close to one of the local universities, where Magic the Gathering and indie fare was more appreciated. By and large, the people who worked at any location for any long stretch of time fit in with the vision the owners had for the stores and what the location demanded almost naturally. Going against the grain didn’t mean you were a poor worker, but it did mean that you didn’t quite connect with the product and the customers, and that you eventually found your way to other opportunities.

identity crisis 1 cover 106071 667x1028 The Retailers View: This Time, Its Personal

Having an identity crisis can be hazardous to your shop’s health. (flips a table, yelling) METAPHORS!

A word of gentle advice to all those working at comic shops: it might be a pretty great gig, and you might enjoy what you’re selling, but always ask yourself if you fit. Are you constantly railing against the customer flow or the direction of the store? Is it causing audible distress or cognitive dissonance in the shop? If so… well, don’t quit, but at the very least, attempt to examine what you’re looking for. While shops can be changed, they have to be willing to change, and you have to be willing to put in the hard work to make it so. Almost everyone has a breaking point – even owners – and sometimes the best thing to do for the store and the industry in that situation is to recalibrate and reassess. That’s what I did.

At the end of 2014, I tendered my resignation as manager at my old shop. Since people have and will ask me, I didn’t leave because I don’t like the owners or the business or the people who frequent the store – I left because I felt as though I didn’t fit what the store wanted to be. Originally, the intent was to take some time away from the front lines and to just be a fan of the medium for a while – which probably begs the question, why am I still writing Retailer’s View columns. Whelp, the answer is simple: I took a look at stepping out from behind the counter, and decided that it felt too uncomfortable at this point in my life. I like standing behind a counter and slinging recommendations. I like shaping my corner of the comic book industry, and matching people with books they’re going to enjoy.

So I’m starting a new comic shop.

As you might have already guessed, the next few Retailer’s View articles will be about some of the hoops you have to jump through to get a store started. It’s not going to be a soup to nuts thing, as a lot of what I would have to say is specific to the time and place we’re setting things up. That said, you’re going to get a look at the retail experience from a place not often explored: right from the ground floor. Already, it’s a little strange and pretty scary, but armed with the knowledge I’ve amassed over the past eight plus years of working behind the counter and a whole lot of product, I think things will work out. Regardless, even during this state of gestation, I can see the importance of personality and location, and what it will mean for the new venture moving forward. It starts right at the beginning, in the very foundations, and it will inevitably grow from there. Hopefully in time, I’ll get to show you all what it becomes.

Until next time.

[Brandon Schatz has spent the last eight years working behind the comic book counter, and he will soon be starting a store of his own. In his spare time, he writes about the comics and culture. You can find him on twitter @soupytoasterson and at his website, Submetropolitan. The opinions expressed are those of Schatz and do not necessarily reflect those of The Beat.]

8 Comments on The Retailer’s View: This Time, It’s Personal, last added: 1/13/2015
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16. ImageExpo 2015 in Depth

imageexpo logo4 300x190 ImageExpo 2015 in Depth

By Bruce Lidl

As has become a tradition at Image Comic’s semi-annual event, the announcements of upcoming titles came fast and furious today at ImageExpo. After a suitably rousing “state of the company” presentation by Image publisher Eric Stephenson, the stage at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center saw a procession of comic luminaries hyping new titles they promise will appear in 2015. On the evidence, Image will likely continue to rise in sales and market share, although the central roles of The Walking Dead and Saga in propelling those gaudy numbers remained an unspoken undercurrent to the show.

Stephenson trumpeted Image’s 2014 performance, which included “double digit year over year growth from 2013” (33% improvement in revenue, 25% in units), a 10.41% market share in the comics direct market and 16.48% market share for graphic novels in the book market. One area of somewhat smaller growth was digital, which Stephenson mentioned in passing and with a graphic that lacked scale or numbers. Despite its vagueness, the digital sales chart seemed to indicate roughly 10-15% growth from 2013. Surprisingly, however, the graph showed a slight dip in digital sales from 2012 to 2013, that was not commented on in the keynote, but Image’s Ron Richards told me outside the talk that it was merely a reflection of “The Walking Dead on TV” phenomenon, and not the natural growth of the category. To keep the digital sales momentum going into 2015, the second Image Humble Bundle was released prior to the opening of the ImageExpo, with a ton of Image backlist titles available digitally in the “pay what you want model.” In fact, Humble Bundle co-sponsored the ImageExpo this year, and has very high hopes for the bundle, particularly after it generated almost $90,000 in the first eight hours of the offer.

IMG 20150108 103958 300x225 ImageExpo 2015 in Depth

The new book announcements included original Image founder Todd MacFarlane’s Spawn books #250 and #251, with Spawn Resurrection #1 sandwiched in between. Declaring himself a “proud papa” of what Image had grown into over the last 23 years, MacFarlane refused to cede all the creative acclaim to his younger Image colleagues. He teased Savior, a a new title depicting the arrival of a Christ-like figure in today’s world. Recognizing a reputation for erratic release schedules, MacFarlane flashed an slide with eight issues worth of pages already completed.

James Robinson made a cameo appearance to announce his title Heaven and to reassure that Airboy is still on the way. Brandon Graham and Emma Rios told the audience about a couple of their collaborations, including 8house and Island, the later a large format “heavy metal” anthology that will include a number of rotating contributors. Emma Rios also brought out Kelly Sue DeConnick to update their plans for Pretty Deadly’s second arc which takes the title’s setting from the American West to the battlefields of World War I, and is expected to arrive in September.

Unlike last year’s event, ImageExpo 2015 highlighted a number of female creators, with Emi Lenox following Rios and DeConnick on stage to announce her autobiographical project, Tadaima, about her visit to her mother’s Japan. Lenox also talked about her collaboration with Jeff Lemire, Plutona, a Stand By Me influenced book about children discovering the corpse of a super-hero, . Other female creators announcing new books at ImageExpo included Marjorie Liu with Monstress and Alex De Campi with No Mercy, the latter scheduled for April.

Jeff Lemire returned to discuss his new book with Scott Snyder, AD: After Death which takes a deep, conceptual look at what the world would be like when “death is cured” and people can live forever. Brian Buccellato intrigued with his Kickstarter-originated Son of the Devil, an exploration of deadly cults and their legacies, and Eric Canete and Jonathan Tsuei discussed Run Love Kill, a project that started over a decade ago, but will now arrive with “robots, dinosaurs and ass-kicking.” The dynamic British duo of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie will be continuing their successful Wicked+Divine series into a third arc with a number of guest artists, and they promised Phonogram 3 for August 2015. Gillen will also be writing The Ludocrats, with art by David LaFuente for Image this year. Chip Zdarsky “crashed” the proceedings in an unannounced surprise appearance to hype his Howard the Duck title (for Marvel), but really to announce Katara, a sci-fi comedy title done with Kagan McLeod, and just to generally lighten up the festivities in his inimitable Zdarsky-style.

Another surprise appearance proved impossible for Darwyn Cooke to arrange, but he announced via audio message his first wholly creator owned title, Revengeance, a crime thriller with Mickey Spillane influences set in the 1980s. Following the Cooke audio portion, Skottie Young spoke of his new title, I Hate Fairyland, about a girl trapped in a fantasy wonderland for thirty years. The tone of the title is probably best expressed by its original working title, Fuck Fairyland.

WeStandonGuard 194x300 ImageExpo 2015 in Depth

While last year’s ImageExpo felt somewhat like the Robert Kirkman show, the explosive success of Saga in 2014 made Brian K. Vaughn’s appearance a natural highlight of this year’s event. In addition to that book, Vaughn will be producing two more books in 2015 for Image, the first entitled We Stand on Guard, a limited series positing a US invasion of Canada with giant robots, drawn by Steve Skroce, and Paper Girls, an on-going series with young newspaper deliverers as the protagonists, drawn by Cliff Chiang, and referred to by Vaughn as “his most personal and weird writing.”

4 Comments on ImageExpo 2015 in Depth, last added: 1/10/2015
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17. Must buy: Economics of Digital Comics by Todd Allen

full dpi front cover Must buy: Economics of Digital Comics by Todd Allen

Disclosure: Todd Allen is a long-time contributor to this site, so read the following as advanced log-rolling if you will.

That said, the book he kickstarted over the summer, Economics of Digital Comics is out. I have an early digital copy and this is really a book everyone in the comics business should read, especially people going into various digital models, from crowdfunding to subscription to pay what you want. Allen casts a cynical eye on most of this stuff, and runs numbers to show what works and what doesn’t. But he also looks at print costs, and the economies of other channels to give a strong overview of what we talk about when we talk about selling comics in 2014. The book has new interviews with digital players and statistics on what webcomics earn from advertising, how much it costs to print books, what the big players take out of various delivery methods and more. All footnoted. And an introduction by Mark Waid, who has become something of the spokesman for Generation Digital.

I’ll have some more to say about specific parts of the books (including some that I disagree with) but this is definitely a conversation starter for what I suspect will be a very long talk about making money making comics in 2015, as a lot of people look at the most optimistic outlooks and weigh them against reality.

And here’s where to buy it:

In print — $19.99, or digital $9.99

Amazon/Kindle:
B&N 

Or just go DIY with Gumroad in various digital formats (and yes the book talks about all of these) for $9.99

Interactive PDF 
ePub3 for iBooks 
ePub3 for Kobo 
ePub2 for basic eReaders

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18. Rough calculations suggests 2% of millennials read comics

megahex fc Rough calculations suggests 2% of millennials read comics

Millennials, can’t live with ‘em, can’t get a vanilla soy macchiatto without ‘em. Among the many charges levied against these lazy, disengaged kids is that they ever grow up and read too many comic books. BUT IS THAT TRUE? Commentator Kevin Drum—who I normally adore—does some back of the envelope calculations and concludes that only 2% of millennials are comics readers. For the numerically inclines out there (translation: Torsten) here are his envelope calculations:

1. Diamond Comic Distributors sold about 84 million comics in 2013. Diamond is damn near a monopoly, but it’s not a total monopoly, and that number is only for the top 300 titles anyway. So let’s round up to 100 million.

2. That’s about 8 million per month. Some comic fans buy two or three titles a month, others buy 20 or 30. A horseback guess suggests that the average fan buys 5-10 per month.

3. That’s maybe 1.5 million regular fans, give or take. If we figure that two-thirds are Millennials, that’s a million readers.

4. The total size of the Millennial generation is 70 million. But let’s be generous and assume that no one cares if teenagers and college kids are still reading comics. Counting only those over 22, the adult Millennial population is about 48 million.

5. So that means about 2 percent of adult Millennials are regular comic book readers. (If you just browse through your roomie’s stash sporadically without actually buying comics, you don’t count.)

As back of the envelope stuff goes, this feels…pretty accurate. There are a bunch of comics distro sources not included in even the rough diamond estimate, but even that would only boost it to 3%.

However, my own extremely solipsistic personal observations indicate that even if people in their 20s and 30s don’t purchase so many comics, they sure know about them. Does a single copy of Ghost World or Hyperbole and a Half purchased count as being a comics reader?

15 Comments on Rough calculations suggests 2% of millennials read comics, last added: 12/30/2014
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19. Diamond Retailer Summit returns to Baltimore in 2015

diamondfl49fh Diamond Retailer Summit returns to Baltimore in 2015

After several years travelling around the country—three years in Chicago and then earlier this year in Las Vegas—Diamond is holding its 2015 Retailer Summit in Baltimore from September 23-25. The dates not only piggy back on the Baltimore Comic-Con but bring the show close to Diamond’s Timonium, MD headquarters.

It’s a pretty good double for everyone—the laid back and friendly Baltimore show segues nicely into the retail-focused programming of the summit. And there will be a LOT to talk about, as we keep saying. Here’s the announcement:

Diamond Comic Distributors has announced that its 2015 Retailer Summit for comic book specialty retailers will take place September 23-25, 2015 in Baltimore, MD.

“We’re excited to bring the Summit back to Diamond’s home turf of Charm City,” said Roger Fletcher, Diamond’s VP-Sales & Marketing. “We had a great event in Las Vegas last year and we hope to exceed that in terms of growth and retailer satisfaction with the 2015 Summit.”

Diamond also announced that it will partner with Baltimore Comic-Con, which will be held right after the Summit from September 25-27, to share marketing and strategic initiatives for the combined events. Baltimore Comic-Con’s Exhibit Hall will serve as the Summit’s Exhibit Hall during special “Retailer Only” hours.

“Our 15th annual show in 2014 was our biggest show to date,” said Marc Nathan, promoter of the Baltimore Comic-Con. “It’s only going to get bigger and better. Baltimore Comic-Con, coupled with Diamond’s Retailer Summit, should make for one of the best regional comic-con shows ever held.”

Now in its 13th year, Diamond’s Retailer Summit is the leading annual event for comic book specialty retailers to meet with publishers and vendors, and come together with fellow retailers to discuss the industry and their businesses. Top publishers such as Dark Horse Comics, DC Entertainment, IDW Publishing, Image Comics, and Marvel Comics come and share exciting new projects, while retailers get to network and learn about new business practices to help them succeed and thrive in today’s retailing environment.

Additional details and registration for the industry’s annual retailer event will be announced in early 2015. Publishers and vendors who would like to sponsor or exhibit at the Baltimore Comic-Con should contact Chris McClelland (registrar@baltimorecomiccon.com) now for additional information. 

 

0 Comments on Diamond Retailer Summit returns to Baltimore in 2015 as of 11/20/2014 1:24:00 PM
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20. Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books

Well, sort of. It’s well known that some used book prices on Amazon are just kind of…loony. Take for instance, Monsters Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books by Ken Dahl, an excellent book about a guy who thinks he has herpes by Ken Dahl, published by Secret Acres but now out of print. (A new edition is planned for next year.) In the meantime, you can get a used copy for a mere $394.94… or brand new for $11,964.08.

$11,964.08

Is this real? I doubt it. I know most of these books mentioned below can be found placidly waiting in bargain boxes at cons. Paging Frank Santoro!

I know a lot of old manga books do legit go for some high prices. For instance, TokyoPop’s Rave Master (4,5,6,7,8,9) Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books in a nice set, goes for $168 in library binding (that’s hardcover) and
but $8,038.21 used. And they wonder why people turn to piracy! 


Some other pricey old books: Battle Royale Ultimate Edition Volume 5 (v. 5) Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books = $499.00

Julie Doucet & Michel Go W/DVD Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books – $173.16

The recent Passion of Gengoroh Tagame Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books by now defunct Picturebox is listed at $226.73 used, and $598.77 new. I know this book does have a loyal fetish following so…supply and demand.

Another Picturebox book, C.F.: Powr Mastrs Vol. 1  Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books by Fort Thunder alum CF is listed at $134.62 used, $154.47 new. Glad I saved my copies!

TeratoidHeights Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books

Digging around some more long gone publishers, I found this from Highwater, Mat Brinkman’s Teratoid Heights Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books at $220.00. That was a great book!

And then there’s Buenaventura Press, which published Souvlaki Circus by finnish artist Amanda Vähämäki Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books $265.35 used, or $331.68 new/

Oddly, the book that you’d think would be the most valuable, the huge epic Kramers Ergot 7 Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books goes for a mere $140.00 used and only $112.50 new! The retail price was $125 so this is a bargain. Some people in the comments mention copies going for $1000 back in the day—the print run was destroyed by mold under mysterious circumstances—but obviously now its just another large, beautiful object to keep around the house.

Not just out of business publishers. I checked Dark Horse and found The Hellboy Collection: The Story So Far Volumes 1-7 Bundle Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books going for $2,881.50. I used to have all these but I think I sold them to the Strand for $20. =(

The moral of the story? Never throw anything out! I don’t!

6 Comments on Want some valuable comics? Try these rare small press books, last added: 11/28/2014
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21. RIP Brian Jacoby of Secret Headquarters

B1yp80RIAAIjUls RIP Brian Jacoby of Secret Headquarters

I’m devastated to learn of the death of Brian Jacoby, the owner of Secret Headquarters, a comics shop in Tallahassee, FL. Jacoby was admitted to the hospital last week with blood clots in both lungs and a leg, and he died suddenly on Thanksgiving night. Jacoby tweeted his health experiences and hospitalization on his Twitter account—painful reading now, but his humor even in illness is evident. The above photo is taken from his Twitter account.

Jacoby is survived by a brother and a 10-year old daughter.

Jacoby was a regular—perhaps even daily—poster here at the Beat, always with a ready opinion on any of the business topics I brought up here. His viewpoints often were the opposite of whatever I was arguing, but he offered his insights graciously and always contributed to the conversation with new information—an all too rare ability in today’s contentious times. I’ll really miss his voice.

A memorial for Jacoby will be held tomorrow:

My sincere condolences to Brian’s friends and family.

6 Comments on RIP Brian Jacoby of Secret Headquarters, last added: 12/2/2014
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22. ComicsPRO investigates former board member over improper use of funds

headerlogo ComicsPRO investigates former board member over improper use of funds

Retailer organization ComicsPRO has been a major influence in the industry over the last few years, working with publishers and holding a yearly conference that is widely thought to be one o fth emost inrpiting of the year. However, how it seems a former Board member is under investigation for possible misuse of funds, as Matthew Price reports. ComcisPRO just posted the following statement on their Facebook page:

ComicsPRO, the Comic Book Industry retail trade organization, is currently investigating the possible misuse or misappropriation of corporate funds by a former Board member. Thomas Gaul, the organization President, was recently made aware of the potential abuse. He moved to quickly inform the Board of Directors of the issue and accepted the resignation of the board member in question. The board is investigating the extent and degree of any misappropriation of organization funds, the effects it may have on the organization, and what the organization can do to recover the funds, if anything.

The Board of Directors is fully committed to uncovering all of the facts and circumstances surrounding these events in an open and transparent manner and, should it become necessary, will cooperate with authorities as the situation unfolds.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, there is no expected impact to the current staffing and programming of the organization.

Developing.

1 Comments on ComicsPRO investigates former board member over improper use of funds, last added: 12/4/2014
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23. Marvel confirms 1 million in sales for Star Wars #1

mvswStarWars001 Warp9 Marvel confirms 1 million in sales for Star Wars #1

Marvel’s svp of sales David Gabriel has  confirmed that STAR WARS #1 will sell 1 million copies.  And already my inbox is jammed with missives from Brandon Schatz and John Jackson Miller.

It doens’t appear that Loot Crate is part of the reason for the record sales. However, at least 38 variant covers and a switch to some new distribution outlets:

We’ve seen Marvel explore new ways of getting comics exposed to potential new readers. Everything from strong retailer support, to unconventional methods of sale like LootCrate & GameStop. Can we expect new and different outlets for the comic to be sold through?

There are a number of new outlets that we’re working with here in terms of the folks purchasing and selling a large number of exclusive covers, which in the end means that this very large number of comics will be sold in places where we haven’t necessarily had comic sales. We’re confident we’ll have lots of new fans reading issue #1. And the great thing about this for all our comic retailer friends is that they’ll be able to sell those new fans the second, third, fourth issues and on and on.

 

Gabriel went on to say that even without all the variants, this would have been a best selling issue:

I can safely say that even without the massive variant plan on this first issue, the numbers on the regular cover alone would make this the highest selling debut of 2015. When you add in the astounding numbers from the variants you’ve got one huge launch, unseen in the direct market for two decades or more! And I should also give a quick thank you to all those retailers who are showing the support for this launch and the launch parties. They’re all really taking this to new levels and making history with this issue.

MIller has some context and thoughts here.

I have written a lot about the history of Star Warscomics in the past (including having written quite a few of them myself), and the million-copy mark bears a particular historical importance for the line.Star Wars #1 in 1977 was the first comic book since Dell‘s Uncle Scrooge in 1960 to top a million copies sold. Star Wars #1 did that in 1977 not through its initial sale to newsstands, but also through a newsstand reprint and at least three waves of bagged reprints offered to department stores through Western Publishing‘s Whitman arm. Sales of the bagged editions of the movie adaptation were so strong, according to former Marvel Editor in Chief Jim Shooter, that Western temporarily suspended its program of printing variant editions for other Marvel titles to focus solely on Star Wars reprints in late 1977. At least the first three issues of the 1977 series all would have topped a million copies, and possibly more.

Just throwing in y own two cents, places where these comics might be distributed:

Disney theme parks

Target

Wal-Mart

Toys ‘r’ Us

…and so on. Just guesses but all could contribute to the massive sales. Comics at theme parks have a long tortured history; when I was at Disney Comics 20 eyars ago many thought this would have saved the line, but stores didn’t like replenishing small budget items that had to be moved every month. Also, giveaway comics were often discarded in trash bins….although that mind set may have changed since then.

I hope we do find out more about where and how this comic is being sold. No matter how it worked out, it’s a real achievement for Marvel. COngrats to Jason Aaron, John Cassaday, Laura Martin and editor Jordan B. White on the huge commercial success.  10801823 929621647055946 5740685589630367813 n Marvel confirms 1 million in sales for Star Wars #1

11 Comments on Marvel confirms 1 million in sales for Star Wars #1, last added: 12/12/2014
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24. Marvel leads November Diamond sales with Spider-Men

Amazing Spider Man 9 Marvel leads November Diamond sales with Spider MenMarvel continued to dominate the top 10 and both units and dollars according to November sales figures released today by Diamond. Sales for the four-Wednesday week were down from five week October, but comics are up for the year overall, with periodical sales statistically flat down .11%. Dolalrs are up, but so are cover prices.

Image continued to have double digit sales and units, and the perennials Waking Dead and Saga were joined by the first collection of Gillen & McKelvie’s The Wicked and the Divine.

Spider-Men from across the multiverse are brought together to defeat the psychic vampire Morlun who hunts them in Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spider-Man #9, the first chapter of Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel’s “Spider-Verse” storyline and November 2014’s best-selling comic book according to information provided by Diamond Comic Distributors, the world’s largest distributor of comics, graphic novels, and pop culture merchandise.

With eight titles in the top ten, Marvel Comics was November’s top publisher, leading in both the dollar share (34.88%) and unit share (37.82%) categories. DC Entertainment had two titles in the top ten, led by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman #36 at #3, and was second in both market share categories with a dollar share of 27.47% and a unit share of 31.64%. Image Comics had a strong November as well, topping ten percent in both dollar share (10.62%) and unit share (11.06%). IDW Publishing was fourth with a 5.65% dollar share, and Dark Horse Comics was fifth with a 4.85% dollar share. Overall, November’s comic book and graphic novel sales were up by 5.47% over 2013 and year-to-date sales are up 4.52% but down by 18.40% from October due to four shipping weeks compared to October’s five.

dollar share Marvel leads November Diamond sales with Spider Men unit share Marvel leads November Diamond sales with Spider Men

TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

PUBLISHER DOLLAR

SHARE

UNIT

SHARE

MARVEL COMICS 34.88% 37.82% DC ENTERTAINMENT 27.47% 31.64% IMAGE COMICS 10.62% 11.06% IDW PUBLISHING 5.65% 4.53% DARK HORSE COMICS 4.85% 3.58% DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT 2.84% 2.54% BOOM! STUDIOS 2.73% 2.68% RANDOM HOUSE 1.20% 0.49% VIZ MEDIA 0.97% 0.36% EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD 0.77% 0.18% OTHER NON-TOP 10 8.01% 5.13%

NEW TITLES SHIPPED

PUBLISHER COMICS SHIPPED GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED MAGAZINES SHIPPED TOTAL

SHIPPED

DC COMICS 95 29 0 124 MARVEL COMICS 76 37 0 113 IMAGE COMICS 74 13 0 87 IDW PUBLISHING 46 27 0 73 DARK HORSE COMICS 36 27 0 63 BOOM ENTERTAINMENT 41 6 0 47 DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT 33 10 0 43 VIZ LLC 0 31 0 31 RANDOM HOUSE 4 24 0 28 EAGLEMOSS 0 0 7 7 OTHER NON-TOP 10 94 97 25 216

 


COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

  DOLLARS UNITS
NOVEMBER 2014 VS. OCTOBER 2014
COMICS -22.73% -22.12%
GRAPHIC NOVELS -8.49% -3.21%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -18.40% -20.73%
NOVEMBER 2014 VS. NOVEMBER 2013
COMICS 5.47% 5.84%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 14.44% 21.00%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 8.36% 7.03%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2014 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2013
COMICS 3.80% -0.11%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 6.16% 6.52%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 4.52% 0.39%

 

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #9 $4.99 SEP140823-M MAR
2 ALL-NEW CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 $3.99 SEP140810-M MAR
3 BATMAN #36 $3.99 SEP140247-M DC
4 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #10 $3.99 SEP140828-M MAR
5 SPIDER-WOMAN #1 $3.99 SEP140833-M MAR
6 THOR #2 $3.99 SEP140857-M MAR
7 SUPERIOR IRON MAN #1 $3.99 SEP140798-M MAR
8 AVENGERS AND X-MEN: AXIS #4 $3.99 SEP140771-M MAR
9 AVENGERS AND X-MEN: AXIS #5 $3.99 SEP140774-M MAR
10 JUSTICE LEAGUE #36 $3.99 SEP140185-M DC


TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 THE WALKING DEAD VOL. 22: A NEW BEGINNING TP (MR) $14.99 SEP140657 IMA
2 TEEN TITANS: EARTH ONE VOLUME 1 HC $22.99 JUL140221 DC
3 SAGA DELUXE EDITION VOLUME 1 HC $49.99 SEP140591 IMA
4 THE WICKED & THE DIVINE VOL. 1: THE FAUST ACT TP (MR) $9.99 SEP140684 IMA
5 SAGA VOLUME 1 TP (MR) $9.99 AUG120491 IMA
6 SERENITY: LEAVES ON WIND HC $19.99 JUL140058 DAR
7 AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER VOL. 9: RIFT PART 3 TP $10.99 JUL140112 DAR
8 BATMAN ETERNAL VOLUME 1 TP (N52) $39.99 SEP140302 DC
9 THE WAKE HC (MR) $24.99 JUL140281 DC
10 DEADPOOL VOLUME 6: ORIGINAL SIN TP $17.99 SEP140932 MAR

TOP 10 BOOKS

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 MINECRAFT: OFFICIAL MOJANG ESSENTIAL HANDBOOK HC $7.99 FEB142549 SCH
2 MINECRAFT: OFFICIAL MOJANG REDSTONE HANDBOOK HC $7.99 FEB142550 SCH
3 DOCTOR WHO: THE OFFICIAL ANNUAL 2015 $12.99 JAN148356 PEN
4 LEGEND OF ZELDA: HYRULE HISTORIA HC $34.99 SEP120055 DAR
5 DRAWING BEAUTIFUL WOMEN: THE FRANK CHO

METHOD SC (MR)

$19.95 AUG141888 PUB 6 THE ART OF DRAGON AGE: INQUISITION HC $39.99 JUN140054 DAR 7 THE OVERSTREET GUIDE TO GRADING COMICS SC $24.95 SEP141457 GEM 8 THE ART OF ROBERT E. MCGINNIS HC $34.95 SEP141849 RAN 9 POPULAR SKULLTURE: SKULL MOTIFS HC $19.99 JUL140131 DAR 10 THE WORLD ACCORDING TO THE JOKER HC $24.95 JUL141650 PUB

TOP 10 TOYS

RANK DESCRIPTION ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 BATMAN ANIMATED: THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES BATMAN FIGURE JUN140313 DC
2 DC COMICS: GOTHAM CITY GARAGE: CATWOMAN STATUE MAY140419 DC
3 BATMAN ANIMATED: BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES CATWOMAN FIG JUN140316 DC
4 DC COMICS: STARFIRE BISHOUJO STATUE APR142091 KOT
5 VOLTRON 30TH-ANNIVERSARY LION GIFT SET JAN141950 TOY
6 THE WALKING DEAD: RICK GRIMES RESIN STATUE AUG140714 TMP
7 BATMAN 75TH-ANNIVERSARY ACTION FIGURE 4-PACK SET 1 MAY140418 DC
8 THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: CALL TO ARMS STATUE “YEAR OF THE HORSE EDITION” JUL140300 DC
9 BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM: POISON IVY STATUE JUN140323 DC
10 MARVEL COMICS: AVENGERS NOW: THOR ARTFX+ STATUE MAY142513 KOT


TOP 10 GAMES

RANK DESCRIPTION ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 DC HEROCLIX: THE FLASH BOOSTER BRICK AUG142838 NEC
2 MONOPOLY: THE WALKING DEAD SURVIVAL EDITION OCT128266 USA
3 DC HEROCLIX: THE FLASH FOIL BOOSTERS AUG142839 NEC
4 ADVENTURE TIME CARD WARS PACK 2: BMO VS. LADY RAINICORN APR148198 CRY
5 FIREFLY: YAHTZEE COLLECTORS EDITION JUL142616 USA
6 DC HEROCLIX: THE FLASH: ROGUES FAST FORCES 6-PACK AUG142840 NEC
7 MAGIC THE GATHERING TCG: KHANS OF TARKIR BOOSTER PACKS AUG142826 WZK
8 GAME OF THRONES PLAYING CARDS JAN120128 DAR
9 MARVEL DICE MASTERS: UNCANNY X-MEN JUN142654 NEC
10 D&D ICONS OF THE REALMS: TIAMAT PREMIUM FIGURE SEP142618 NEC

 

4 Comments on Marvel leads November Diamond sales with Spider-Men, last added: 12/14/2014
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25. The Retailer’s View // Top Sellers and Bottom Dwellers

A couple of news bits and a personal announcement to tackle this week, so let’s get right to it.

MILLION AIRS

About a week ago, Marvel started to make a big deal over Star Wars #1 eclipsing 1,000,000 pre-orders from various retail outlets. While the company hinted at some of this quantity coming from less traditional sources, the number is still quite impressive, boasting the best direct market numbers for a single printing of a single issue in over twenty years. Despite all of the headache inducing rabble that I’m about to detail, that’s a number everyone involved with the creation, sales and marketing of the series should be proud of.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pound my head against my keyboard while I detail the variant structure of this particular release.

STAR WARS CHRISTOPHER PARTY var1 676x1028 The Retailers View // Top Sellers and Bottom Dwellers

Check it out, it’s Bucky O’Hare you guys. Shut up, it is too.

As you’ve probably heard by now, there are an impressive amount of variant covers being produced for this comic. To start, Marvel tossed a grand total of 13 wide-market variants on top of the regular comic for all retailers to order and obtain. These 13 books had qualifiers that ranged from “1 for every 15 copies ordered” to “1 for every 500 copies ordered”. Four of them required retailers to exceed 200% of their Original Sin #8 numbers in order to get any books in – which is probably the clearest indication of where Marvel wanted the book to be in terms of sales. Original Sin #8 clocked in at an estimated 90,478 copies sold, which means they were probably aiming at the 200,000 as a “worst case scenario”.

These alone wouldn’t have brought Star Wars #1 even close to the 1,000,000 mark – so where does all that extra push come from? Many are pointing in the vague direction of alternative distribution and awaiting news on what nerd box corporation sprung for a few hundred thousand copies – and while that’s probably part of the answer, a good chunk is also coming from the retailer exclusive variants Marvel offered retailers.

In one of their missives to the retail community, Marvel let it be known that any retailer or retail group could have their own variants produced. These variants would be completely unique and would potentially utilize some big name talent to create a unique image that would appear on a cover exclusive to that retailer. The catch? You had to order at least 3,000 copies and order 200% more of the regular cover than you did for Original Sin #8. It appears quite a few retailers have taken them up on this offer, as the total of variants floating out are currently sitting at 57. Now, some of these are black and white “sketch” variants of the retail exclusive variants, which you could seemingly produce as little as 1,500 copies of, but the point remains: Marvel went full variant crazy when pushing this book. Will it work for them? In the short term, of course. They’re going to have one of their biggest January’s in a long time thanks to Star Wars alone, probably, and there will almost assuredly be enough product on the shelves to meet whatever demand might arise. In the long term? When a company digs this deep into variants and qualifiers, I always worry about the long lingering after effects. The practice of asking retailers to potentially overextend themselves to chase rare items almost always ends with product chocking out storage space and back issue bins. It manipulates the regulatory curve of supply and demand, and takes cash on hand and turns it into dead weight that’s harder to turn over, both of which can and will result in various levels of hardships. Too much of this and a store, a company, or an industry breaks. And wouldn’t that be fun.

FAILURE TO LAUNCH

Last week, the DC solicitations for March revealed a culling for the company, and the internet had some words about it. Because of course it did. The company is heading into their big move across the country with quite a few stagnant books and a line-wide crossover eating up their publishing schedule. In short, it was the right call to dust a large portion of their books in order to arrive back in June with a refocused creative direction. That said, the sheer volume of titles on the chopping block still makes this feel like a defeat of some kind.

ConvergencePromo 1200 545ac8e14697f7.11375445 1000x540 The Retailers View // Top Sellers and Bottom Dwellers

What DC needs here is for their PR department to pick up the copious amount of slack that’s roped on the floor. I know they’re already having a hard time convincing people that Convergence is going to be a big, important thing with the structure they chose, but they really shouldn’t be spending too much time and effort on that. Convergence is a crossover series, and it’s been designed as a two-month respite from The New 52 universe. Each and every one of their 40 two part minis seem to nudge the reader in the ribs and say, “Hey, remember when this was happening?” – and it’s going to do very little in the way of drawing a wide audience. June, on the other hand, stands a chance to be spectacular, and the company should be teasing it now. As it stands, DC looks like it’s flailing as a large chunk of their newly launched books limp to an end, and others that were a bit long in the tooth drop along side them. They need to come out and say this is all in service of something, or else people are going to run with a less positive narrative. It’s all about perception, and right now, DC is losing the battle. Here’s hoping they win the war.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE

As of December 31st, I will no longer be the manager of a comic shop. After spending a little over 8 years at Wizard’s Comics, I’m moving on to a different role within this great industry. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what that is yet – but I thought it would be pertinent to let you all know of this change, as it will clearly effect what I write for this site. A hint regarding the future: while I won’t be a store manager, I will still be writing similar articles about the industry for Comics Beat, and they will start on January 12th. You might be surprised. You probably won’t be.

Until then, you’ll probably see me contribute the odd news post or opinion piece here or there, but otherwise, I will be busy putting together the next phase of my life – so if we don’t talk until then, have a fantastic holiday season!

10 Comments on The Retailer’s View // Top Sellers and Bottom Dwellers, last added: 12/25/2014
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